Sea island real estate company hires three sales associates

The venture that handles four-fifths of Kiawah Island's real estate sales by dollar volume has brought on additional representatives to help grow the business.

Dale Mercer, Trent McChesney and Colt Robinson recently joined Kiawah Island Real Estate as sales associates. The agency describes itself as "the market leader in residential real estate operating on Kiawah Island."

The associates "will be responsible for supporting a senior sales executive" with the firm as well as building up their own list of clients, the real estate company says.

Mercer comes to the agency from The Kiawah Island Club, where he's been a golf professional for the past decade. Most recently, he served as head pro at the Cassique course. In addition, he worked 10 years at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. A graduate of Kent State University, Mercer has "long-standing relationships with Kiawah homeowners and guests as well as a thorough understanding of the Kiawah community," the firm says.

McChesney started developing and selling real estate in the Charleston area in 2005. He joined the real estate company from The Peninsula Group. He's experienced with residential and commercial real estate, new development projects and site sales. McChesney graduated from the University of North Carolina.

Originally from Palm Beach, Fla., Robinson relocated to the Charleston area from Cashiers, N.C. He spent the past six years selling residential real estate for Discovery Land Co. at Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club. Before that, the University of Mississippi graduate worked in the Bahamas at Baker's Bay Golf & Ocean Club.

Last year, Kiawah Island Real Estate sold $254 million in homes and other properties. According to the firm, the more-than-quarter-billion dollar figure represents an 80 percent market share.

For more information, visit www.Kiawah.com or call 843-768-3400.

Hunley Waters enters final development stage

Spending its early days in a sluggish real estate market, modular-home neighborhood Hunley Waters nonetheless has expanded steadily over the years.

Now the groundbreaking North Charleston development has reached its last construction phase, which consists of framing homes on nine undeveloped lots. Home designs will include the new Wando model, which Hunley Waters developers say has proven popular with prospective buyers.

In tandem with community growth, the venerable neighborhood off Park Circle stands in "full upswing" for residential development. Meanwhile, the planned O'Hear Bridge will allow for improved access for waterfront recreation on Noisette Creek.

Hunley Waters backer Cobalt Developments LLC says it's "moving forward" with construction, including framing the Wando floor plan.

"We are entering the final phase of the Hunley Waters project," says Chris Swan, chief executive of Cobalt Developments. "As we near completion in 2014, we encourage prospective homebuyers to get in on this opportunity," he says.

According to Hunley Waters' supporters, neighboring Park Circle "is booming again," as metro Charleston rebounds from the 2008 housing recession. Regional new-home sales were up 15 percent in January compared with the same period in 2013, with some of the gains from inaugural developments in Park Circle.

"Hunley Waters has a niche unmatched in Park Circle," says Reyne Espy, a Hunley Waters resident. "You have access within minutes to anywhere in the Lowcountry, Interstate 526, recreational opportunities on Noisette Creek and the restaurants and shops on East Montague. I love the lifestyle at Hunley Waters," Espy says.

Contractors plan to focus on the 1,812-square-foot two-level Wando floor plan. The model incorporates three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, ample storage space, a ground level parking garage, nine-foot ceilings and a kitchen with Energy Star appliances, according to the developer.

As with all Hunley Waters homes, the residence garnered a National Association of Home Builders' Green Certified Homes designation.

Builders are constructing six new homes now, and there are two contingent homes. Prices start around $200,000. In all, Hunley Waters will wind up with 36 houses.

Along with construction growth, the neighborhood has been helped by road and bridge improvements. Early last month, the South Carolina Department of Transportation unveiled plans to replace bridges on Spruill and O'Hear avenues. The roads lead up to the Hunley Waters development. Road and bridge work is scheduled to wrap up in 2016. The project will allow a higher elevation above Noisette Creek at the O'Hear Bridge.

"These improvements will allow improved access for canoeing and kayaking on the creek," according to the Hunley Waters developer. The federally-funded project carries an $11.4 million pricetag.

A gated waterfront community, Hunley Waters showcases a community dock, pavilion on Noisette Creek and places to enter the creek for recreational canoeing and kayaking.

According to community organizers, the neighborhood's central location "puts residents within three minutes of East Montague (Avenue), five minutes from both I-26 and I-526 and 10 minutes from historic Charleston."

For more information, contact sales associates Neil Bansil at 843-714-3855 or neil.bansil@carolinaelitere.com and Valarie Frasier at 843-276-8614 or valarie.frasier@carolinaelitere.com or go online to www.hunleywaters.com.

Rescheduled ribbon-cutting proceeds at Jacobs Cove

Recovering from icy weather earlier in the month, Lennar was able to hold a ribbon cutting Feb. 26 for its new Jacobs Cove community.

The builder joined Moncks Corner Mayor William W. Peagler III and other local dignitaries to mark the first sale closing in the neighborhood, which is located in downtown Moncks Corner.

The event at 402 Rockville Road featured an oyster roast and barbecue served by Home Team BBQ.

Jacobs Cove sports 55 home sites eligible for a host of floor plans priced in the low $100,000s. According to Lennar, interest in the burgeoning neighborhood remains high. Buyers will benefit from the builder's Everything's Included program, in which "desirable luxury features" are included in the base price.

Founded in 1954 and headquartered in Miami, the national home builder constructs houses in 18 states, offering "affordable, move-up and retirement homes in communities that cater to almost any lifestyle."

Peagler, in remarks at the ribbon-cutting, described Jacobs Cove as a "welcome addition to this area of town."

The mayor says Moncks Corner enjoys "a particularly good working relationship" with Sam Sparks, the company's regional vice president; and with site coordinator Ashley Vaughn. Lennar Corp. proves to be "an excellent partner with the town," Peagler says.

The company's efforts include:

- Redeveloping the 12.7 acre Jacobs Cove site.

- Repairing infrastructure installed by the original developer.

- Dedicating a neighborhood park and playground equipment for Jacob's Cove and agreeing to dedicate a 1.8 acre practice field in Moss Grove.

- Showing interest in assisting with the construction of the Moncks Corner Farmers Market at the town's recreation complex.

"Thank you Lennar," he told the assembled group, "for your interest in Moncks Corner and making this a better place."

State, national foreclosure totals tumble but remain above pre-recession levels

The number of foreclosures in South Carolina and the U.S. as a whole again dropped compared with a year earlier.

Yet a noted economist says the nation still isn't quite out of the housing slowdown.

Irvine, Calif.-based CoreLogic property information provider recently released its National Foreclosure Report for January. During the month, there were 48,000 completed foreclosures in the country. That's off 19 percent from the 59,000 completed foreclosures a year earlier.

Completed foreclosures refer to homes actually lost by owners as the result of missed payments and subsequent possession actions by lenders or the courts.

While completed foreclosure totals fell from a year ago, they increased 11.8 percent from 43,000 reported in December 2013.

In comparison, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month in the seven years prior to the housing market's initial slide in 2007.

At the end of January, about 794,000 homes in the U.S. were in some stage of foreclosure - what's known as the foreclosure inventory. The figure was off 33 percent from the inventory's 1.2 million homes a year before.

The foreclosure inventory as of January accounted for 2 percent of all homes with a mortgage, compared with 2.9 percent a year earlier and 3.3 percent a month before. South Carolina's inventory, meanwhile dropped to 2 percent from 3 percent a year ago.

Meanwhile, the state's rate of seriously delinquent home loans was 4.8 percent of all mortgages, below the 5 percent national share.

"We are recovering, but we're not there yet," Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, cautioned.

"For every completed foreclosure, there are 954 mortgaged homes in non-judicial foreclosure states and 896 mortgaged homes in judicial foreclosure states. (South Carolina is considered a judicial state, in which courts play a more active role in handling foreclosures).

"Although this is a big improvement relative to the height of the foreclosure crisis, a healthier ratio would be one for every 2,000 (mortgaged homes)," he says.

"The painful tide of high foreclosures continues to recede as fewer borrowers are losing their homes and states are working through their shadow inventory," says Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive of CoreLogic.

"We are entering 2014 with less than a million homes in the foreclosure inventory. We expect to see continued progress in the months ahead, but the judicial foreclosure states will continue to lag the rest of the country in working down their backlogs of foreclosed properties."

According to CoreLogic, the five states with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were Florida at 6.4 percent, New Jersey with 6.3 percent, New York at 4.8 percent and Connecticut and Maine , each at 3.4 percent.

Group names Lake Keowee resort best lake village of 2014

For the second time in three years, an Upstate village won a real estate website's top award for properties located on a large, inland body of water.

The Reserve at Lake Keowee took home Real Estate Scorecard's 2014 Bliss Award for Best Lake Community of the Year. The resort also was honored in 2012.

According to The Reserve at Lake Keowee, more than 650 families from 30 states enjoy the more than 30 miles of shoreline in the mountain-lake community.

Real Estate Scorecard launched the yearly Bliss Awards to honor excellence in Southeastern master planned communities. The awards are based on evaluations by Real Estate Scorecard staff, surveys of community members and public voting through its website.

Considered an independent judge of real estate properties, the scoreboard notes in its lake community award, "The Reserve at Lake Keowee is an exquisite example of private country club living. Amenities are top notch and its location is fantastic.

"Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this lakefront gated community is surrounded by breathtaking waterfalls, renowned state parks, Clemson University and the chic redeveloped downtown Greenville.

"It's an exciting time to be a part of The Reserve at Lake Keowee," says Mike Agee, the community's director of marketing. "Sales in 2014 are already off to a promising start on the heels of a very successful 2013," he says.

According to The Reserve at Lake Keowee, other 2014 Bliss Best Community Award winners include Palmetto Bluff near the South Carolina coast.

Greenwood Communities and Resorts developed The Reserve at Lake Keowee, opening the village in 2000. The residential community spans 3,900 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Its $100 million in amenities include a 200-slip marina, village center, Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and more than 1,400 acres of parks, preserves, trails and green spaces.

Along with its 700 resort members, the community claims more than 1,000 additional "extended family" members who can take advantage of club privileges through a multi-generational Legacy Membership program.

The Reserve home sites start in the $100,000s; and homes begin in the $420,000s. For more information, call 877-922-LAKE (5253) or visit www.ReserveAtLakeKeowee.com.

Charleston Preferred Properties: local real estate numbers on the mend

Quite active in 2013, the Charleston real estate market "continues to thrive" this year based on supportive business and tourism sectors and population gains.

Those are findings from economic forecaster Bart Jackson of Daniel Island-based Charleston Preferred Properties.

"Charleston real estate certainly has a lot working in its favor these days," he says.

Last year, 13,500 properties went under contract in the Charleston Multiple Listing Service. "That's the same record number of sales that went under contract back in 2006, at the height of the national real estate boom," he says.

Thus far in 2014, "we're seeing median price increases in many submarkets, a sharp decrease in distressed properties on the market and shorter turnaround times." He says that properties in metro Charleston "are selling faster than they have in years."

Another driving force in the housing market has been the area's popularity as a travel destination, mirroring gains in business and relocation. The region also racked up more accolades: Charleston was named among the country's "most romantic destinations," the region was tapped as the 11th top performing city in the U.S. by the Milken Institute and the Lowcountry was picked as one of the best retirement places by Forbes.

"All signs point towards the continued health and growth of our area's real estate market this year," Jackson says.